Gold Coast young gun Matt Rowell was the short-priced favourite to claim the 2020 AFL Rising Star Award within the opening month of last season before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury in Round 5.

The 19-year-old quickly burst onto the scene and claimed three consecutive ‘man of the match’ performances and still had many fans suggesting he was as deserving as any candidate for the illustrious rookie award despite playing just the three matches.

Moving into the new season, Rowell stands as the clear favourite for the Rising Star once again, but if last year taught us one thing, it’s that there are no certainties in sport like there are in food; the $3.50 apple cinnamon hot cross buns from Woolworths Specials will always be a sweet treat. No such luck in sports.

With an exciting crop of neophytes set to have immediate impact on the 2021 season, there are several promising starlets that could contend with Rowell in the race for the Rising Star.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Having been the clear No.1 selection at last year’s draft, just like Rowell, Ugle-Hagan stands a great chance in being right at the top of the leaderboard with his former Oakleigh Chargers teammate.

The exciting Bulldogs prospect is set to be given plenty of minutes at the senior level, a key factor in attracting votes and making a case for the award.

Should the highly-touted teenager have a significant role in the Bulldogs’ push for the top-eight, he could have a key factor over Rowell, who could see the Suns finish another campaign at the bottom end of the ladder.

Tom Green

In the same fashion as Rowell, Green is able to qualify for the 2021 award despite featuring on several occasions for his club last year and winning a nomination during the season.

The big-bodied onballer played six matches for the Giants last year, headlined by a 30-disposal performance against the Demons in Round 17.

With 12 months of training in the AFL system already under his belt, Green could be ready to take major strides this season as part of a flashy GWS midfield.

Mitch Georgiades

The exciting Power forward showed plenty of promise last season in a campaign that had Port Adelaide perched atop the AFL ladder at the end of all 18 rounds.

The key forward managed 14 scoring shots from his seven games with Port last year and could cement a starting role in a premiership contending side, adding an unparalleled role to others competing for the Rising Star Award.

Should Georgiades take his game to new heights in 2021, he might just stand as the dark horse for the honours this year.

Will Phillips

Joining Ugle-Hagan as the uncapped youngsters on our list, Phillips was a massive bolter in last year’s draft as the Kangaroos claimed the jet midfielder with the third overall selection.

So far the exciting onballer has impressed at Arden Street and could immediately step into a key role in David Noble’s midfield.

Should Phillips thrive in a senior role with the Kangaroos in his opening season, there will be plenty of votes heading his way for his efforts.